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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

15 easily missed details from deep inside the Rep. Matt Shea report

Washington Legislature
Washington Legislature
WA state Rep. Matt Shea has been ejected from the House Republican Caucus in response to a report that found he is a leader in the Patriot Movement and helped plan the 2016 armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge.

The recently released 108-page investigation detailing Washington state Rep. Matt Shea’s connections to militia groups and extremist activities has prompted his own caucus to exile him and the House Republican leader to call for Shea’s resignation.

In response, Shea took to Facebook to denounce the investigation as a "sham" and declare: “I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign.” Shea has also said that all of his communications have been lawful.

The top-line conclusions of the investigation are that Shea is a prominent leader in the Patriot Movement, played a role in planning three armed conflicts in the American West, including the 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and that his actions have put law enforcement officers in danger of political violence.

Buried in the report are a number of details and revelations that give readers an inside look at how Shea reportedly operates behind the scenes. It’s a world of code names, encrypted communications and military-style directives.

Here are 15 easily-missed excerpts:

Role in armed standoffs

“Between April 12-14, 2014, Representative Shea met with other elected officials from Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona at Bunkerville, Nevada, who gathered in support of the Bundy family’s resistance to a federal court order and developed a strategy for leadership over future Patriot Movement armed resistance against the federal government by creating the Coalition of Western States (COWS).”

“Representative Shea in his leadership role as Chairman of the Coalition of Western States (COWS) along with [a] Washington militia leader and other members of COWS beginning around early November 2015 through January 2, 2016, engaged in conversations with Ammon Bundy and other militia members in the planning and preparation of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon.”

Military-style plans and intelligence

“Representative Shea on or about January 3, 2016, created a detailed military styled operation plan Entitled ‘Operation Cold Reality’ that included roles and responsibilities of COWS members and militia leadership in support of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon.”

“Representative Shea on January 4, 2016 through the use of email and using codename ‘Verumbellator,’ covertly disseminated information to … State Representatives from Washington, Idaho, and Nevada, and to Patriot Movement militia leaders and others, that detailed and warned of specific law enforcement operations and actions in response to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County Oregon.”

Sensitive law enforcement information

“Representative Shea, via his private email account in the name of ‘Verumbellator’ sent a document … entitled, ‘Apparatus of Repression’ … The document attached to Representative Shea’s email detailed extensive law enforcement confidential information laying out the command and control structure of Washington state law enforcement agencies. The document was over 250 pages long and contained rosters of local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) agents, SWAT team member lists complete with names and badge numbers and the Joint Harbor Operations Command (JI-IOC) building schematics. The document also included the names and home information of FBI, DHS, and Washington State Patrol agents, photos of SWAT teams, street surveillance cameras, aircraft and communications equipment used by law enforcement in Washington. In Representative Shea’s email he said he dug deep on the web to find the document. The document, as stated by Representative Shea, was to be used ‘to validate and check out agents from law enforcement agencies who may attempt to contact us…’”

Role in Patriot Movement

“This investigation determined Representative Shea is an active and influential leader of the Patriot Movement in the US. He supports the movement and its causes and at times is an active participant in organizing and carrying out demonstrations against state and federal government activities. He has on occasion organized and directed armed confrontations with law enforcement officers.”

“Representative Shea is a self-professed member of the Patriot Movement and although Representative Shea is not believed to consider himself a member of a militia, he is closely associated with several militia groups, their activities, and prominent militia members. He is also closely associated with the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) and Marble Community Fellowship; two organizations closely aligned with the Patriot Movement.”

Marble Country connection

“[Marble Community Fellowship] is a church founded by pastors and married couple Barry and Anne Byrd, who Representative Shea has publicly introduced as his spiritual advisors …Representative Shea is very closely connected to MCF and to Barry and Anne Byrd. The Byrds have been included in private meetings where attendees were invited by code names, and where Representative Shea unveiled the Biblical Basis for War that offered his view of God’s authorization for war. [At] the same meeting Representative Shea distributed the Restoration document which was his blueprint for rebuilding after the fall of the US Government.”

Power, fear, radicalization, intimidation

“Obtaining political power is a strategic objective of the Patriot Movement but it is also used tactically by Representative Shea … Encouraging individuals within the Patriot Movement to run for political office is a frequently discussed topic as reported by individuals formerly active in the Patriot Movement.”

“Fear is an often used tactic by Representative Shea to develop and grow his political support. He frequently warns people to stockpile weapons and ammunition and to prepare to defend your property. He makes frequent reference to Syrian immigrants, Antifa communists, and at times tells inaccurate stories that drive fear. Representative Shea spoke of Syrian refugee children raping another child in a restroom at knifepoint, a story that was later found to be completely inaccurate and did not involve rape, a weapon, or Syrian refugees according to news articles quoting Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs.”

“Representative Shea and the Patriot Movement rely on the radicalization of individuals to the point they are willing to take up arms against the United States to carry out their objectives … Each armed conflict serves as a radicalization node, enraging individuals with sympathetic views of the goals of the Patriot Movement. This serves to draw more people into the conflict and into the Patriot Movement, thus adding to Representative Shea’s influence and power.”

“Inherent in the act of dispatching armed militants into a conflict with government authorities is the presence of intimidation and the threat of use of force. Intimidation and the ever-present threat of the use of force are powerful tactics used by Representative Shea in the achievement of his political goals.”

Encrypted communications

“Representative Shea communicates securely with others using his code name ‘Verumbellator’ over secured communications systems such as Wickr, Signal and Protonmail. In October 2017, Representative Shea abandoned the use of email due to unspecified ‘security threats’ in favor of the Redoubt Emergency Network (REN Group) that communicates over the Signal App … Representative Shea and his associates have also been known to use what they call ‘Red Phones’ when engaged in a conflict. Red phones are understood to be pre-paid telephones that are untraceable.”


“Representative Shea told [witness 22] on many occasions through casual conversation that the ‘government’ tracks the phones of ‘people like us’ and feared that if two or more of ‘us--Patriots’ are gathered they (the Government) would turn on the mics on the phones and listen via stingray devices through warrantless wire taps.”


“Based on evidence obtained in this investigation, it is more probable than not that Representative Shea is likely to plan, direct and engage in additional future conflicts that could carry with them significant risk of bloodshed and loss of life. It is the professional opinion of the Investigators, that on a more probable than not basis, Representative Shea presents a present and growing threat of risk to others through political violence.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."